There he is, the Self-Made Man. He never asked for anything, and nothing was given to him. Nor did he inherent anything from anyone. No, that would have been too easy. He made it here all by himself. Through hard work and determination, never looking for a hand out or sympathy, he made it. He is the ideal archetype for men, especially in our western culture. He is who we all look up to. He is what we all want to be. He represents the best of us. He is a Self-Made Man.
He is also a completely made up figment of someone’s imagination. He doesn’t really exist. There is no such thing as a Self-Made Man. He is no different than a comic book hero, with magically powers that no real human being could ever really possess. He is a fantasy creature, dreamt up by someone long ago who was somehow convinced that it was possible for a man to make it all by himself. Convinced that somehow a man who made it on his own was more manly and represented the ideal attributes for a man.
When we achieve success, we convince ourselves that we got all of it through our hard work, even though we know that is not exactly the whole story.
And somehow, we bought into it. We were somehow convinced that this made up, mythical creature actually existed. Even more, we convinced ourselves that we could somehow become this mythically being. We actually believed that we ourselves could become self-made men. That we could do it all ourselves, on our own. When we achieve success, we convince ourselves that we got all of it through our hard work, even though we know that is not exactly the whole story. Not really. But, because we have convinced ourselves of this myth that we are self-made, our egos get a little big and we are open to pride. We can even be prone to look down on other men who need help, seeing them as weak, and we feel shame if we ever find ourselves in need.
However, the Self-Made Man, as great as he may seem, is not something that exists in reality. Furthermore, no matter how hard we try, none of us could ever really be completely self-made. We could no more be a Self-Made Man than we could be Superman. This may be ideal, but it is not the real. Just like there is (spoiler alert) no Santa Claus or Tooth Fairly, there is no such thing as the Self-Made Man. He is just a myth and you can never become him.
The ideal of the Self-Made Man has its roots in the fundamental belief in our culture that all success in life is based on hard work and determination. We fundamentally believe and live our life based on the idea that if we work hard we can achieve success. Furthermore, we also believe if you are not successful, then it must be because you just are not working hard enough. This belief certainly has some validity. Indeed, hard work is an important element in someone’s success. I would say your personal work ethic is the foundation for all achievement. A good work ethic includes traits like having personal discipline, showing up when and where you are supposed to, fulfilling your obligations and commitments, being a man of your word, and always working in a spirit of excellence. Without a good work ethic as a foundation, it doesn’t matter how much people help you, you will never be successful.